According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition that occurs in adult dogs and cats. Fortunately, this disease is preventable. Very often, bad breath is the only sign of periodontal disease in dogs — that is, until it reaches a stage where it is a serious health concern.

Periodontal disease refers to a range of conditions, including gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth). These can result in pain, tooth loss, organ damage, or even death.

What Happens

When plaque and tartar spread under the gum line, it can start to damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth and eventually lead to tooth loss. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins, which further damages the tissues if left untreated.

Severe build-up of plaque and tartar can result in Fido’s own immune system worsening the problem instead of making it better. When the bacteria first reach the gum line, the white blood cells are immediately activated to destroy the disease. However, the chemicals released by the overwhelmed white blood cells will cause damage to the supporting tissues of the tooth and thus, make things worse.

Preventing It

The best way would be to start dental hygiene routine for Fido at a young age. Always remember to brush his teeth daily to prevent bacteria build-up, or opt for a dental chew if you are unable to reach into the back of his mouth.

Should teeth scaling be necessary, take him to a vet to get it done. Just remember, prevention is always better than cure!

* The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always make a pet health care decision in partnership with a qualified veterinary or pet health care professional.

*This article was updated on 4 Aug 2020. It first appeared in on 5 Oct 2016.